Using Drupal’s Advanced Forum Module


Drupal’s core forum module has been around for a long, long time. It was first introduced back into Drupal 3 in 2001!

The forum module is fairly basic but it has proven reliable enough to handle some large sites such as However, the module does lack many of the more advanced features that you’d expect to see in today’s forums such as VBulletin and phpBB. 

If you want a more powerful forum in your Drupal site, we recommend Advanced Forum. The Advanced Forum module has many of the same features as VBulletin and phpBB, but it’s also tightly integrated into Drupal.

In this tutorial, we’ll show you through how to install, configure and use Advanced Forum.


Installing Advanced Forum

Install and enable the three modules required for Advance Forum to work.

  1. Advanced Forum:
  3. Chaos Tools:

Configure Advanced Forum

The Advanced Forum module comes already configured but you can make changes.

  • Click on Configuration in the black admin menu bar.
  • Click on Advanced Forum in the Content Authoring box on the left side of the screen.


You’ll now see the general settings area. 

These settings focus primarily on how the forums, forum topics, and comments are styled on the site. The Advanced Forum module comes prepackage with several theming options for your forum. Review the list of Advanced forum styles and choose one that you like or, if you are familiar with theming in Drupal, you can copy the tpl.php files and/or CSS from the module and paste it into your theme. Then, you can edit the files and CSS to meet your needs.

As you can see, one of the features the Advanced Forum module offers is the ability to use a content type other than default forum topic that comes with the Forum module. You can create your own forum topic content type. The other configuration settings under General settings address how your forum topics are styled. Review the brief explanation for each option to learn more about that option.


 Your next configuration opitons for breadcrumbs and the display of the comment quantity.


The last Advanced Forum configuration option allows you to include an image for your forum. By default, this feature will not work because the forum vocabulary does not have an image field by default. If you want an image for your forums, add the image field to the Forum vocabulary.


Other Settings

In addition to the settings discussed above, below are few others to consider.

Forums: The Forum module has some its own settings to consider. For instance, as you can see in the image above, the configuration options for Forum include adding containers and forums. By default, the Forum module comes with a General Discussion forum.

  1. Click on Structure > Forums
  2. Click on Add container to create another container. Look at the screen shot at the start of this tutorial. See the box labelled Forums. A container will create another box like that.
  3. Click on Add forum to create another forum. Forums are pages that group Forum topic posts.

Roles: If you want to restrict forum posts and discussions to a role other than Authenticated (or even anonymous if you are feeling adventuresome), add a forum role.

Permissions: There are at least three permissions to review and configure before opening our forum to the public.

  2. User profile access
  3. Node – create/edit/delete content a forum topic to be exact.


Adding an Author Pane Block

Another nice feature you can add to your site is the Author pane provided by the Author Pane module. The module creates a block that you can enable to show on the Forum topic posts (as shown here).

  1. Download the Author pane module from
  2. Upload the module to your webserver and unpack it
  3. Enable the module
  4. Go to Structure > Blocks and click Configure next to the Author Pane block
  5. Check Forum topic under Node types to display on (assuming Forum topic is the content type you selected when configuring Advanced Forum module)
  6. Select a region under Region visibility settings (in other words, what section of the webpage do you want the block to appear)
  7. Save

Go see what it looks like by navigating to one of your Forum topic posts:




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11 years ago

Thanks for a nice, informative tutorial.

I would like to see an explanation explaining what is meant by “..image for your forum…” Where does this image appear and on what nodes?

Also, mentioning that ‘Permissions’ and ‘Roles’ are under ‘People’ may also be useful to we beginners. 😉

Otherwise I found it very informative.

Thanks again.

Steve Burge
11 years ago

Thanks wreckage

“..image for your forum…” means an icon for each forum board. So a board about modules might have a wrench icon and a board about themes might have a paintbrush icon.

10 years ago
Reply to  steve

Hi. Wreckage here.
It’s two years on and I’m now battling through the fourth iteration of

the site I’m trying to create. I’m currently trying to configure

Advanced Forum in D7.

I can’t get Topic images to show for each Forum and could do with a little help, please.

The information above is helpful but by no means comprehensive. I have

found this video to be helpful but also, not comprehensive:

To try to use an image for each Forum, I have tried the following;
At ‘Home » Administration » Structure » Taxonomy » Forums’
I have added a ‘Topic_image’ image field and under the ‘Field Settings’ tab, uploaded a default image.

When I click on the ‘Edit’ tab, there is another ‘Default Image’ setting.

Do I a) leave this blank, b) again use the same default image as under

the ‘Field Settings’ tab, c) does “override the field’s default

image” mean that if a different image is uploaded then the image under

the ‘Field Settings’ tab is overridden? e) Do the settings in Advanced

Forum override these settings anyway?
Under ‘Home » Administration » Configuration » Content authoring’ there are settings for ‘Image Field’ and ‘Forum Image size’ and I’m assuming those are the ‘global’ settings for Forum topic images. What setting should I make there?
Under ‘Home » Administration » Structure » Content types »

Forum topic > Manage Fields tab’ there are again two areas for

‘Default Image’, one below ‘Browse available tokens’ link (whatever

that’s for), and one under ‘Topic Image field settings’ in the final

section of the ‘Topic Image, Edit’ page.
I have tried both of these and still I get no forum topic image.
Under ‘Home » Administration » Structure » Forums’ there is no option for a ‘topic image’. I’m out of ideas and the more I look at the various

settings and options the more confused I get.
Can you assist me to add an image for each of my main forum topics, please?
Also, IMCE looks inside the following folder for images:

/www/site-name/sites/default/files/pictures, and I’d like my Forum-related

images to be placed into

/www/site-name/sites/default/files/pictures/Forum, but by default they are

placed here: /www/site-name/sites/default/files/default_images. Where

and how do I change this setting so the correct folder is used?
Under ‘Home » Administration » Structure » Content types » Forum topic » Manage fields’ there is a File Directory option. What syntax do I use

to direct it to the correct place? Is this even the correct area to

change this setting?
Also, even though I have set up signatures

for my test users and the test forum posts are displaying, the

signatures aren’t. Any ideas on that also?
My penultimate question is: Why when I create a role and set permissions here: ‘Home »

Administration » People > Permissions button’, are the same

permissions for a Role not present when I go here: Home » Administration

» People » Roles button > Edit Permissions, and I have to set them

all again?
Finally, why do I have to log into ‘Disqus’, or Twitter, or Google to reply to a post here now? Signing in to OST used to be enough, didn’t it?
Ooops… One more question. I seem to have only one certificate but I have completed all the Beginner and Intermediate questions and also some others. Can you advise why this is, please?
Any and all help appreciated. Thanks.

11 years ago

Just want to point out that sometimes clearing the Drupal caches after installing is needed to get the mod to show up in Content Authoring

11 years ago

“However, the module does lack many of the more advanced features that you’d expect to see in today’s forums such as VBulletin and phpBB.”

Can you provide a list of the “advanced” features this adds?

10 years ago

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10 years ago

Thank you for the advice. I was actually thinking that the native forum was quite limited view not necessarily natural. I usually [url=]create Forumotion forums , I am accustomed to many functions forums but I was a little lost. Since installing Advanced Forum, it gets better :)[/url]

9 years ago

which module are you using for this discussion forum

9 years ago

NIce….. Is this way to use forum like blog page [url=][/url] like style?

7 years ago

I have build a advanced Forum and some of the Sub-Folders are forbidden for user with a speciell role.

In the Page with the view over the different forum-folder this Sub-Folder is not shown to the user without permission.

But the normal Drupal search modul finds a Node in this subfolder ans shows the content to the user without the right.

What kind of search can I use to show only the forum-nodes the user has the permission to see?

Daniel Pickering
7 years ago
Reply to  Regina

Which search are you currently using for the site?
You should use one that allows you to exclude paths so you can stop it displaying results from private sections.


7 years ago

Hi Daniel,

I tried normal Drupal Search and the build in View “Advanced Forum Search”.

With both I have the same problem.

Now i am using a Template of the view to not allow the rows with nodes the user has no permission to see.

With this code

node_access(“view”, $node, $account) === TRUE)
Do You mean this solution?

Daniel Pickering
7 years ago
Reply to  Regina

Hi Regina,
I would recommend using another search engine this is a popular one that is very customisable [url=]…[/url] that page also lists other modules that are similar should you wish to consider them.


4 years ago

can the same fields as you have it for this forum be used in a private forum?

Rod Martin
4 years ago
Reply to  sozzled

Hi sozzled,
Since the forum is managed by permissions, the fields would be there the same as they would be for a public forum.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x